UK to look at sanctions over ‘Chinese interference’ with democratic process

The UK is reportedly set to sanction individuals believed to be involved in Chinese state-backed interference in Britain’s democratic process which allegedly saw the personal details of millions of voters accessed in a hack.

Ministers will set out details on Monday in relation to what is said to have been cyber-attacks on the Electoral Commission as well as 43 people including MPs and peers.

Efforts to step up pressure on Beijing in response include looking at sanctions on individuals thought to be connected with the alleged acitvity, according to multiple reports.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden (Yui Mok/PA)

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is expected to tell Parliament that Beijing is behind a wave of cyber-attacks against MPs and peers, as well as accessing the personal details of 40 million voters in a hack on the election watchdog.

A small group of politicians who are hawkish on China are said to have been called to a briefing by Parliament’s director of security, Alison Giles, in relation to the activity.

They include former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former minister Tim Loughton, crossbench peer Lord Alton and SNP MP Stewart McDonald, the Sunday Times reported.

The four are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) pressure group, which focuses on issues involving the increasingly assertive Asian power.

Some of those affected are understood to be preparing to jointly address the matter publicly on Monday.

A Government spokeswoman refused to comment on Sunday.

Meanwhile, reforms of UK spying laws are continue to make their way through Parliament, with the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill also in the Commons on Monday.

The legislation includes measures to make it easier for agencies to examine and retain bulk datasets, such as publicly available online telephone records.